Nov 21, 2022

Enterprises Should Focus on User Experience and Not Just IT Performance

HARISH M N
SENIOR SOLUTION DIRECTOR, DIGITAL NETWORK AND SECURITY

All organizations today look at IT infrastructure as a key differentiator for enabling and accelerating their businesses. Hence it becomes imperative for system integrators to understand the part played by IT infrastructure in moving the business and this requires them to work with enterprises to define the right set of goals. Most have failed to do so, as, often, the watermelon effect is prevalent in enterprises of all sizes where IT service management SLAs and KPIs appear “green” but there is widespread dissatisfaction among the end-users about the services being delivered. Often, end-users feel that the performance of their IT infrastructure is not up to acceptable standards and that it impacts their productivity. 

This can be attributed to the fact that stakeholders are looking into obsolete metrics that do not provide complete visibility into hybrid work environments. The standard metrics of system availability, uptime, response time, and issue resolution time are important but are merely basic indicators of performance and do not directly tie back to business productivity and user experience. And that is why there is a growing necessity for enterprises to focus on User Experience and not just on IT service metrics.

Why is IT infrastructure performance good but not good enough?

With the emergence of anyplace, anywhere, any device mode of access, the end-user is no longer operating from a fixed asset, connected to a fixed network, or using a fixed set of applications residing in the data center. This means that meeting the SLA targets does not necessarily address the needs of the customers working in a hybrid environment. Certain SLAs and SLA targets have gone obsolete in comparison to the expected service quality and experience of users.
  
At Microland, we recognize this challenge and are proactively focusing on Experience Level Agreements (XLAs) while also looking at sustaining the highest levels of SLA. 

User experience matters to enterprise digital transformation strategy

Any service within the enterprise traverses through multiple infrastructure components like endpoints, enterprise networks, cloud, data centers, and applications. The conventional approach of measuring, monitoring, and reporting user experience in siloes across the entire stack of enterprise infrastructure and applications leads to serious inaccuracies and inconsistencies. To gauge the performance of endpoint devices like VDIs, laptops, etc., end-point agents gather metrics like device performance (boot-time, crashes, disk space, memory, connectivity) and performance of applications (availability, response time, errors, freeze, load time, stable quality voice call). At the other end of the service chain, we have Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tools that monitor and measure experience based on the performance of local applications, web applications, or cloud-based applications by measuring response time, transaction time, reliability, and uptime of underlying compute infrastructure. 

Individual endpoints are connected to applications over a network that cuts across siloed domains. Network management teams have traditionally focused on KPIs such as higher availability, lower latency, and faster resolution times. However, the agents and tools across the stack have dashboards that report user experience independently and lack proactive or remedial triggers to solve any underlying issues. Given the disjointed endpoint, network infrastructure, and application landscape, the onus of assembling the pieces of the puzzle to glean actionable insights falls on network service providers.

To get a holistic picture of user experience through the IT infrastructure landscape, enterprises need to champion a concerted effort in bringing together performance metrics across networks, applications, and end-user devices. They can further combine it with adjunct areas that impact user experience, including level of automation adoption, automation maturity, compliance statuses, and service management metrics such as response and resolution time. This calls for the need for a platform that can correlate the data coming from multiple agents & tools and provide actionable insights to enable accurate diagnostics, faster resolution, and improved user experience.

Enterprises leverage Microland’s Network Assurance Platform (NAP) to evaluate user experience across the enterprise IT infrastructure landscape

The business user is at the center of Microland’s Platform-First approach driven through the Network Assurance Platform (NAP). The NAP platform measures user experience at three distinct levels.
 
At the base level, NAP periodically measures multiple network attributes and connectivity to applications to indicate the health of the system. The observed metrics are benchmarked against KPIs to identify positive and negative deviations. NAP has an automation engine that can trigger auto-remediation workflows to proactively address underlying problems.

At the next level, NAP offers the ability to measure other aspects of IT infrastructure, including path visualization beyond the enterprise network, endpoints performance, and the underlying infrastructure stack tied to the application. What sets NAP apart is the use of automation to enable advanced correlation that facilitates faster and improved diagnosis and automated remediation. With this ability, network professionals can now effectively assess application performance, service performance gaps, and user experience.

At an advanced level, NAP in conjunction with our in-house developed AIOps platform, Intelligeni, provides full-stack observability across infrastructure, configuration, and policy. Enterprise users can effectively move from siloed performance measures to an integrated single pane of view across technologies and domains. AIOps enables real-time observability, extensive correlation, fine-tuning benchmarks, proactively identifying and fixing issues along with predictive analytics. Remedial actions are configured to resolve issues without human intervention. 

The Platform First approach promotes a technology-led and human-assisted way of network operations to improve efficiency and agility in order of magnitude to positively impact user experience and business productivity.